History of Autism Spectrum Australia

For my HSTY3902 unit, I completed a two-episode podcast series for Autism Spectrum Australia, also known as Aspect. In this podcast, the history of the organisation was discussed with four other individuals who were previously and currently connected with the organisation: Adrian Ford, Jacqui Borland, Dr Trevor Clark and Thomas Kuzma. Both episodes were 27-30 minutes long. The first episode includes a general history of the organisation and the second episode discusses the future directions for Aspect.

My overall argument with the project was to appreciate and value the work Aspect has done for the Autism community and respective families. As a sibling with a brother with Autism who went to Aspect’s Vern Barnett school, I’ve heard from my parents about the autism-specific teaching that was provided for Harry and how their early-intervention strategies immensely helped my parents. However, upon discussions with my interviewees, I became more educated about the work that still needs to be done in the community and how Aspect must stay aligned with the interests of the Autism community.

What’s important about this project is that it brings together different individuals from different areas of the organisation to reflect on Aspect’s role within the community and its achievements. The podcast provides a space in which the interviewees could freely discuss Aspect’s history and draw out any specific developments and movements during the organisation’s lifetime. For me personally, if I didn’t do this podcast I would’ve never learnt about how the organisation is pushing for more Autistic voices and how neurotypical individuals sometimes forget and misplace the importance of giving Autistic individuals the power to ensure their community’s wants are being met.

I am immensely grateful for the opportunity Aspect has granted me to create these podcast episodes and for the new knowledges gained by speaking to my interviewees. They all taught me new developments, changes and shifts that are occurring within the organisation and the Autism community. Furthermore, they showcased the amazing work being done by Aspect to continually meet the needs of Australia’s Autism community.

Here are the completed episodes:


Autism Spectrum Australia – Who are they and what do they do?

Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) is a non-for-profit organisation that provides services for people living on the autism spectrum and support to their families/carers. Aspect was first established in 1966 as Autistic Children’s Association of NSW by a group of parents on the North Shore of Sydney. The absence of early intervention programs propelled these parents to set up initiatives and facilities for their children and other autistic children across NSW. In 1971, Aspect’s first school opened on 3.4 acres of government granted land in Forestville, known as Aspect Vern Barnett School. Today, the organisation has 9 schools in NSW operating from 72 locations in NSW and South Australia and supports for more than 1,185 students. It is also the largest autism-specific education provider in the world. 

Aspect Vern Barnett School

A fundamental division of Autism Spectrum Australia is it’s Aspect Research Centre for Autism Practice. Using evidence-based research in partnership with the Autistic community , Aspect utilises strategies that are respectful, person-centred, family-focused and customer-driven. Aspects other activities include information services, early intervention, diagnostic and assessment services, transitions services for school-aged children to non-autism specific environments and therapy services/behavioural support for people on the autism spectrum. Parental guidance and career support services are also provided by Aspect. Aspect’s services are driven by the purpose to understand, engage and celebrate the strengths, interests and aspirations of people on the autism spectrum. 

My current project with Aspect will be a podcast with members of the organisation and autism community to discuss its history and progress from 1966 to today. While interviewing the valued members of Aspect I will uncover and document how the organisation has achieved its remarkable progress and the various challenges it had to face across the years. 

Aspect has been an organisation that I’ve known about since I was barely walking and talking. My older brother, Harrison, has autism spectrum and an intellectual disability. He attended Aspect Vern Barnett School in primary school and my parents were subsequently involved with the organisation. From a young age, Harry’s autism was just an everyday element of our family. However as I’ve grown older, the work my parents have done for Harry and our family have shown me the impact that care and support can have on us as individuals. A focus that is also witnessed within Aspect as an organisation. Aspect ensures no individuals with autism spectrum or family/carer is left unsupported or alone throughout all stages of their life.

12 year old me speaking at Aspect’s Comedy Night in 2013
Harry (My brother) and I at 2022 Melbourne Grand Prix